As we hibernate for winter, the long dark evenings are perfect for snuggling up by the fire with something to interesting to read & a cuppa.
In recent years we have seen a huge resurgence in niche bespoke magazines, with independent publishing undergoing a renaissance. This new breed of collectable & beautifully crafted magazines are capturing our imagination through their storytelling & breathtaking imagery and are providing a refreshing change to technology and the fast pace of the digital age.
A real favourite of ours at Rockholly's is Creative Countryside, an independently published magazine featuring articles and poetry centered around 4 key themes: stories, nature, folklore and adventure.
We spoke to creator and editor in chief Eleanor Cheetham of Creative Countryside about her life in the countryside & her journey into print….
Hello Eleanor. Can you tell us a bit about your background and what first inspired you to create your own magazine?
Of course! I've always loved writing but never really knew what I wanted to do with it. I worked for a while in education, trained to be an English teacher and did that for a few years, but I always felt creatively stifled, and even though I was blogging alongside my job, I really wanted more. It was a 'now or never' decision, and I didn't have a long-term plan, but I quit teaching and took a year out to study for an MA. I ended up writing a book about the year I lived in a bell tent with my husband, but I also made time to work on Creative Countryside, and made the decision to turn the blog into a print magazine. I launched a crowdfunding campaign for the first issue, and it stemmed from there!
Where do you find inspiration for your articles?
For the first few issues, I created a content list inspired by the Celtic Wheel of the Year calendar (very much rooted in the seasons) and the natural world. I'm always interested in what's going on outside, whether that's in the animal world, the weather, the minute seasonal changes - but I also find the creative projects of others an inspiration too. In both the online journal and the printed magazine, I like to include interviews with small businesses and creative individuals who produce work inspired by the natural world. Now the magazine is in its second year, I'm in a privileged position now - potential contributors get in touch with pitches for future issues, and I tend to allow their ideas to guide each magazine. I find the content is much more personal this way, and it means we can include a whole range of topics that I wouldn't necessarily have considered if I was to plan everything myself.
Do you think the rise in popularity of specialist print publications is a reaction to the digital world?
Partly, yes. Everything in the digital world is so fast paced, and sometimes our natural response is to seek an alternative, something that requires you to read more than a few lines of an Instagram caption. But I also believe that the rise in independently published magazines is down to a general feeling that a lot of the glossy magazines are selling a consumerist lifestyle that we don't want or need anymore. I got to the point where I was sick of being sold to on almost every page; I didn't have the money to buy the 'must-have' items, and it felt a bit superficial. I think a lot of people that start an independent publication do so because of a reaction against the norm, whether that be the digital world, or otherwise.
Can you tell us a bit more about the Creative Countryside community?
The community is something I launched last summer, but had been thinking about for a long time. I wanted to create a space for others who have similar interests to my own; those who love being outdoors, who want to celebrate small, seasonal moments, and search for everyday adventures. I was conscious, though, that the desire to live more slowly and seasonally feels out of reach for many, especially when we're so busy with work, family life etc. The community aims to provide inspiration and reminders of how to approach this in really simple ways. I send out a monthly e-book with ideas for celebrations, menu plans, moon phases, mantras and meditations for the month ahead. Members also receive a weekly email update, there's a private Facebook group, seasonal book club, and the meet-ups which take place four times a year. I think this is my favourite part of Creative Countryside - it's an informal afternoon, and there are lots of people that have never met anyone there before, but instantly start chatting like they've been friends for years!
You hold lots of events to meet and connect with like-minded creative. Can you tell us about any events you have in place for 2019?
There are a limited number of events taking place in 2019, mainly because my focus is split between our bigger gatherings, and the informal community meet-ups.
We are holding a slow midwinter retreat at the end of January; over a weekend we'll be creating a journal for spring, writing the seasons and walking through the countryside, collaboratively creating a nature zine, plus seasonal feasts and time to chat, connect and reflect on the year ahead.
In March, one of the community meet-ups will also be open to those who are not members, and you can come along to see what it's all about without the need to commit.
Our main gathering will take place in October (date and location TBC) - this will be a weekend full of creative workshops, time spent outdoors, and lots of seasonal food and drink!
To find out more about Creative Countryside check out their website https://www.creativecountryside.com, or follow them on their beautiful Instagram account https://www.instagram.com/creativecountryside/